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How To Buy A Pick-Up Truck
Diesel or Gas Engine?
I can boil this complex subject down into an itemized list. Buy a gasoline engine! Many will cry foul, but as an owner of both I can tell you from experience buying a diesel engine is a fools game. Here's why:
1. Diesel engines cost more to buy. It will add $6,000 to the price of the truck.
2. Diesel engines break down often due to weakly engineered fuel systems and the parts are expensive.
3. Glow plugs fail and can ruin a piston and valve (2010 models claim they won't destroy the engine).
4. If your engine fails not any repair garage can fix it. Only diesel specialist can fix it. That means you will pay a lot more for repair and wait longer as demand for services is high. Diesel parts are terribly expensive. Simple fuel injectors can cost you $3,000 to $8,000 to replace (no kidding) and that's what you paid for the entire engine! Just replacing one fuel injector can cost you $1,200 and your engine has six to eight of them! Just this alone makes buying a diesel engine a total waste of money over a gas engine that has no such outrageous repair bills. And we have not even begun to discuss the main fuel injector pump, turbochargers and diesel auxiliary systems.
"The only people who truly benefit financially from buying a diesel engine is the manufacturer and the diesel repair shops."
5. The money you save on fuel efficiency with your diesel is totally wiped out the moment you need your first diesel repair. So the gasoline engine is still better. The average repair for anything diesel is $500 to $1200 and often much higher. Get ready to be soaked.
6. Dodge (and others) has a nasty habit of abandoning its customers. They will discontinue manufacturing a critical engine related part and leave you hanging with no replacement available. And don't think you can get a part at a junk yard for those salvage yards normally won't sell you a part off a diesel engine as they only want to sell the "entire" engine. Gas engines they sell any part you want.
7. Ford has EGR clogging problems that fail each 50,000 miles and the only cure is to install an expensive redesigned aftermarket system Bullet Proof Diesel makes them. Countless owners have had to replace EGR coolers two to three times each 100,000 miles. Where are your fuel savings money going? Right into repair shops.
8 Fuel injectors cost $3,000 and they fail more than they should. Some will last 100,000 miles or more, but many fail much sooner. The cure? Buy a gasoline engine next time for there is no cure. The fuel injection pumps operate under very high pressures (10 to 30 thousand psi) and are subject to fail under these very high pressures.
"You will hear a lot about the modern diesel engine technology. Don't believe a word of it. It will cost you a small fortune to keep that beast running."
9. Each diesel engine has its strange failure quirks. Dodge, Chevy, GMC, Ford all have unique problems. There should be zero problems considering the reliability of gasoline engine development. Diesel engines themselves are strong, but the support systems is where the problems lie, generally the fuel and cooling systems cause the majority of problems. Unfortunately, these problems can ruin the engine causing breakage of pistons, valves, rods, crankshafts.
"You can not win buying a diesel engine, you can only lose money!"
10. If you get water in the fuel at a gas station you could laser your pistons. The high pressure fuel injector will spray that water like a cutting knife slicing the dome of the piston. Total engine wreckage results. You have a warning light that water is in the fuel, but you had better hope the water sensor works and the indicator bulb is not burned out. A gas engine which has lower pressure fuel injectors will only run rough or stall if water gets into the fuel.
"Even if you are a mechanic the cost of diesel parts still makes it too expensive to own."
11. If you get into trouble with your engine you can buy a rebuilt diesel for many thousands of dollars. If you had a gasoline engine you can buy a rebuilt stroked big block engine for $500 to $800. The diesel engine will cost you multiple thousands of dollars. How much? $5,000 to $10,000. And don't think you will need to spend that money? Don't bet against it. Diesel engine blocks have a nasty habit of cracking. If your engine cracks get out your wallet.
12. The cost for tires, clutches and suspension will cost more due to the heavier weight of the diesel engine and stronger suspension required. Everything related to diesel is costly.
"Don't fall for the diesel hype you read or hear about. You'll be sorry you purchased a diesel engine the very first time you see your first repair bill. It will devastate you. And get ready for more failures for this is just the warning shot across the bow."
13. In the case of the Dodge Ram diesel truck I got shafted by Dodge with leaking axle and transmission seals, poorly designed fuel pump that can cause fuel injector failure and the retrofit cost me a thousand dollars at my expense for their problem they will not warrantee! I had to relocate and install a new fuel pump into the fuel tank, install a defective and no longer available water fuel separator, fix leaking axle and transmission seals = a pile of junk is what I got for my $40,000. Needless to say I will never again buy any Dodge product. The diesel magazines blast Dodge and Cummins engine for their engine defects. Read diesel magazines before you buy any diesel truck. Diesel Power Magazine and Diesel World Magazine.
14. Beware of glow plugs used to start diesel engines as they can disintegrate and fall onto the piston and wipe out the piston, cylinder, connecting rod, valves and in some cases break the crankshaft. The cost just to replace the glow plugs can be up to $3,000. Way too expensive to replace to prevent disaster, but if you don't it can cost you $6,000 to $10,000 for a rebuilt diesel engine. You can not win buying a diesel engine, you can only lose money!
If you love diesels that is okay. As long as you don't mind paying for the repairs go ahead with the diesel engine. If not, then choose a gasoline engine. Yes, you will pay more in fuel especially when towing a trailer, but mile for mile you will still be way ahead of the game because diesel engine parts and labor repairs are astronomical.
Beware of the New Tech Engines
Beware of the new technology that is incorporating diesel components onto gasoline engines to dramatically boost power output. Ford has a engine called "EcoBoost" that turns a fuel efficient V-6 into the power of a V-8. This is nice, but there is one big problem with this concept. You better hope that engine never breaks down for it will be nearly expensive or more so than a diesel engine. Used parts will be hard to get and new parts will cost you dearly like a diesel. The engine has twin turbochargers, high pressure fuel injection, intercoolers which are all diesel engine component technology. You are still way better off just buying a big. 6.0 liter gasoline engine. Another thing to watch out for with new engines is the overhead cams. Make sure they still have hydraulic lifters or you will be forced to pay to have the valves manually adjusted like the Cummins diesel engine. It is expensive to pay to have it done.
Long or Short Bed?
The bed of the truck may not be important to you, then again it can be a huge mistake to buy a six-foot short bed when you needed an eight-foot long bed. Make sure you make the right choice here. You will notice most PU trucks on the road in the city are 6 foot and in the country rural areas there are more 8 foot trucks. Work trucks generally require the longer bed. City folk generally only want the 6 foot bed to haul some routine household items. If you haul motorcycles an 8 foot bed is better, but you can do it with a 6 foot. Read our article Loading Big Bikes in Pickup Trucks The long bed also raises the price of the pick up truck by a few thousand dollars. Unfair, but true.
Which Brand of Truck Should I Buy?
Shop around with all the major brands of trucks. Get brochures for each and sit down and start a list of items you must have. This "wish list" will eventually guide you to the truck that has the most desirable features you need. After you have narrowed down your search to about four brands of truck to choose from it is time to consult Consumer Reports Magazine and find out which truck rank highest for comfort and reliability. Styling should be the lowest denominator and reliability the highest consideration. Check out Truck Trend Magazine
But don't just rely on Consumer Reports or other general consumer magazines. You need to perform Internet searches and scour specialty automotive magazines to find out which trucks are causing owners big, expensive trouble. Dodge has injector, dowel pin and block cracking problems with the Cummins engine. Thousands of loyal customers were cruelly shafted as their engines self-destructed and no warranty was available to save them. Yes, known defects hidden from customers known to blow up the engine are routinely concealed from buyers and owners. I won't buy another Dodge for it has been nothing but trouble. Also the front suspension components are poorly designed and weak steel materials are used causing early and repeated failures. Oil seals refuse to seal and stay sealed in the axles. Ford has serious and expensive EGR clogging up problems, fuel injector troubles and again screwing the Ford owners and hiding these horrific diesel engine defects from customers. Also, diesel fuel is not always cheaper than gasoline, it stinks like hell along with its exhaust and diesel engine parts are way over ten times more expensive than gas engine parts. In many cases hundreds of times more! Like I say, "The only people who truly benefit financially from buying a diesel engine is the manufacturer and the diesel repair shops."
"JD Powers did a survey and found that diesel engine trucks fail in the first year of service and only get worse after 50,000 miles."
"Don't fall for the diesel hype you read or hear about. You'll be sorry you purchased a diesel engine the very first time you see your very first repair bill. It will devastate you. And get ready for more failures for this is just the warning shot across the bow." One failure I had with a Dodge Cummins diesel was with a tiny twenty-five cent o-ring in the fuel filter bowl housing. The water drain valve kept slicing that little o-ring causing diesel fuel to spray out and cover the engine and pavement with fuel. Dangerous to cause a devastating engine fire. Come to find out Dodge abandoned tens of thousands of its customers, me being one of them, by discontinuing making those fuel bowls. Not even one junk yard in the entire USA could one be located that worked. A diesel shop charged me $800.00 for an aftermarket device that only cost them less than $250. Thank Dodge for that folks. If they did it once, they will do it again so beware of Dodge. But let's be fair. It is not just Dodge. It's the entire diesel industry. The engines are unreliable and when they do break they break expensively and keep on breaking after you fix them.
"So go ahead and buy your diesel and give these crook repair shops access to your checking account at the same time."
"You will hear a lot about the modern diesel engine technology. Don't believe a word of it. It will cost you a small fortune to keep that beast running." Now they have twin turbochargers and putting these contraptions on gas engines too. They burn up and are expensive to replace. Magazines will do diesel truck "shoot outs" and rave about the power and torque these engines have, but they are silent when it comes to reliability, actual cost of ownership and unconscionable inflated repair bills nobody should have to endure. They also remain silent that to get your truck fixed nobody can fix the thing except diesel repair shops. These folks are highway robbers. So go ahead and buy your diesel and give these crook repair shops access to your checking account at the same time.
150, 250 or 350?
The 150 is a lighter weight truck known as a 1/2 ton. The 250 is better suited for towing travel trailers and rated as a 3/4 ton truck. The 350 is a one ton truck that is usually the best for hauling big 5th wheel type trailers, but the 250 truck is highly capable too in this category. The modern truck exceeds these tonnage limitations meaning a 150 model truck rated as a 1/2 ton truck can actually exceed that capacity. The numbering system is old and outdated, but the industry just leaves it alone to avoid further confusion. To get the right truck for your needs depends on how heavy a trailer you plan to haul as to which heavy duty truck you should buy. Just find out how heavy the trailer is you will tow and the charts in the truck advertising brochures will show you the truck that can handle the load. A rule of thumb is to buy a larger engine than what is needed so you are not overworking the engine and obtain better towing fuel mileage and increased engine longevity. After you have selected the truck you think you would like to buy go visit a RV dealership and show them the truck and the specs and let them also give you advice. Don't speak to salespersons only. Speak to the RV repair people too. They know the technical details a lot better than sales personnel. They may also tell you why you should buy a certain brand of truck due to problems with the truck when towing RV's. You need to also consider if you really need to purchase a truck with "duel rear wheels" or "single rear wheels." As a rule the duel rear wheels are for very large and heavy 5th wheel towing. You can tow 33 foot long travel trailers no problem with single rear wheels. Duel rear wheels are safer as extra tires are supporting the load if one or two goes flat. Ride quality will suffer a harsher ride with the 250, 350 and higher rating truck. The 250 is not bad, but above that the ride can be quite harsh with reduced vehicle control from rear axle bounce and axle wrap under acceleration and braking. Why? A stiffer suspension designed to carry heavy loads will give you a tough ride when hauling no load. Test ride over some bumps in the road. Don't let the salesperson dictate where you can test drive the vehicle. They intentionally avoid bumpy roads. An aftermarket airbag suspension can help give you a smoother ride.
There are tires you can buy that are designed to carry higher capacity loads for towing. Get these extra load carrying tires if you plan on towing an RV. The ratings are usually in letters like "B" or "C" rated. These higher rated tires will increase safety especially for "single rear wheel" trucks. A wider footprint tire is also recommended to help spread the load of the weight to the road surface. This will then require some fender flares so dirty rain water, mud and stones are not thrown onto the body of the truck ruining the paint on the body and keep your truck clean. Mud flaps should be purchased to keep your truck clean and whatever you are towing too.
Dealer Installed Options vs. Aftermarket
It is not advisable to have any options installed by the dealer except the core options such as automatic transmission, air conditioning, basic body style and special interior selections which is often listed as option packages. Exterior options that make the vehicle look better can be obtained cheaper with aftermarket accessories. JC Whitney is one such company. Another company is LMCTruck.com Automotive Magazines have many advertisers who sell aftermarket accessories for cars and trucks. Try to get the dealer to throw into the deal mirrors that can be extended for towing. You don't need electric extended mirrors, just manually extended mirrors are fine. You can buy aftermarket mirrors that just slide over your existing mirrors for less than $80 and they look good too. RV dealers and automotive parts houses sell them.
Towing anything with you truck? Maybe one day you will want to tow a camper? Then consider buying a long bed truck as a short bed may inhibit your ability to tow a large RV. Axle gear ratio determines the amount of weight you can tow. 3.73:1 gears will do the job for up to 9,000 pounds towing. Over that you may need 3.10:1 gears. Read the towing guide in the sales brochure. Make sure you also purchase the towing options and do not skimp here. You need the "heavy duty" towing options to tow anything behind a pick up truck. Oversize radiator, big strong hitch, cruise control (can be bought aftermarket if you wish but may not have all the extra fine control towing features the vehicle manufacturer can give you), wiring harness, beefed up suspension, etc. Don't by a new truck only to find out later you should have purchased the towing optional equipment. Tip: Towing refers to pulling a trailer. A travel trailer usually requires a hitch designed to tow 10,000 lbs so it will not break. Hauling or payload refers to how much weight is placed in the bed of the pick up truck. Hitch weight refers to the weight of the trailer being placed on the truck's hitch. If you plan to tow a travel trailer and haul a motorcycle get a truck with a suspension system designed to carry both the hitch and hauling payload weight and make sure you get a long bed truck.
Always buy an automatic transmission. They get the same fuel mileage today as the old standard shift without hard wear and tear of the drive train due to shock from bad shifts and grinding of the gears and you won't have to deal with clutch replacement which costs over $1,000 to replace. Plus, if you ever injure your foot in a fall, you can't drive your shift stick truck because you can't operate the clutch. I learned this lesson one winter slipping on the ice when walking and breaking my ankle.
Get Away From Noisy Salesman
There will come a point when shopping you need to be alone with the vehicle without any salesperson present to interrupt your thoughts and feelings. This is very important so you can have time to soak in all the elements of the truck or RV you wish to buy. As long as some noisy salesperson is bothering you, you will buy the wrong product. Don't be intimidated. Take hours if need be to get the feel of the truck or RV you want to buy, especially when buying an RV. You need to pretend you are living in the RV before you buy it or you will make some very serious mistakes that can not be undone. Another thing you need to watch out for is to make sure there is no loud radio, television or demo DVD is playing while the salesperson is speaking to you. Tell him straight out to turn it off or go somewhere where it is quiet. Dealers do this to "distract you" and to put you off center so you will make "rash decisions" so beware of this aggressive sales tactic.
Don't buy stupid things like upgraded floor mats, undercoating, paint protection, bug deflector, extra chrome body trim, dash covers, etc. You can get a better deal with higher quality aftermarket products for these minor things that are not really necessary.
More Problems With Diesel Trucks
Diesel engines are much heavier than gasoline engines and as a result hammer the suspension system on the truck unmercifully. This means in seven years all the rubber joints must be replaced including the control arm bushings and other expensive suspension components. Try to install aftermarket upgraded rubber components with newer advanced materials.
More Insanity With Diesel's
Do you realize that to replace the exhaust system on you diesel pick up truck could cost you $7,000? The cost to replace a DPF catalyst-equipped exhaust system is horribly expensive. If you get socked with this bill seek out an aftermarket system from Diesel Emission Technologies (DET) that offers a solution to replace the factory (non cleanable) diesel particulate filters at a much cheaper price.
As you can see with these insane repair bills you can never save enough money on fuel to pay for these repairs. Consider just two small engine part failures costing you $12,000. You are in the black hole of no return. You can't possibly recover from your loss. You are now pouring serious money into a used vehicle. You can can never win, you will only lose your money with a diesel.
Diesel ngine Blocks Cracking
Diesel engine blocks can crack and it will cost you $8000 to $12,000 for a new engine if the crack can not be patched. This alone is a good reason to stay away from diesel engines in cars and in pickup trucks. Diesels are truly only practical in commercial business situations like in big-rig and delivery trucks. The cost of engine failures are way too high for the individual pulling an RV, even if pulling it on a full-time basis. You can't recover from these expensive repairs!
Diesel Destroys Transmissions
Be forewarned the low-rpm torque curve that burns up clutches, torque converts, breaks shafts, and tears up splines will destroy your transmission. Automatic transmission coolers will not help as they only cope with heat generated after the intense damaging forces have been applied.
Cheap Replacement Parts
Another big scam at diesel repair shops is the replacement of inferior Chinese-made parts that are made to look like quality parts. They are counterfeit and of poor quality. It started with the gasoline engine parts trade and now has found its way in with the diesel shops. With these knockoff counterfeit parts you are getting robbed and not know it paying top dollar for inferior merchandize. The prime culprit is turbochargers, so watch out for them. But fuel injectors may be suspect.
Beware that diesel trucks (some gas too) often have what is called "bad serviceability" traits. Example: to change injectors the entire truck's body must be removed from the frame. Can you imagine the repair bill for that labor? The injectors will cost you $8,000, now calculate the labor! How about to change a transmission filter? One model requires the removal of the exhaust manifold, but guess what? The manifold bolts are so frozen at just 3,000 miles all twenty of them bolts have to be torched and drilled out and rethreaded just to replace an oil filter! How about the oil and fuel filter? How about valve adjustments? If you pop open the hood in the showroom on a new diesel truck you can hardly see the engine behind all the hoses and valves and gizmos. These things eventually will all fail and need to be replaced and most of them removed when servicing the engine driving up labor costs for routine maintenance.
Ask mechanics questions about these things before you buy a certain brand of pick up truck. It is imperative to read lots of truck magazines so you will know what truck or engine to avoid. Some truck engines (gas or diesel, but mostly diesel) are so poorly made they are prone to failure creating nightmare lemon scenarios for their owners. Diesels like to fail at 50,000 miles so get ready for the big repair bills.
Ask mechanics about any EGR and oil cooling problems as the Ford diesels had severe problems. Dodge had fuel tank lift pump and fuel injector problems. All are expensive to fix. Ask about unusual complexity issues. Some trucks are so complex that a failed turn signal connection can cause the torque converter to lock and unlock causing the vehicle to lurch forward. If you have a Dodge Ram with a Bosch VP-44 fuel injector pump contact Gilmore Diesel Performance in Kingdom City, Missouri for professional advice.
"Do yourself a favor. Stay far, far away from diesel engines."
Make sure you read lots of magazines before you buy a truck or RV and talk to truck and RV owners. Keep a logbook of all the features you want with your vehicle and use it as a checklist. You have got to get this right because a new truck or RV is going to cost you a lot of money. - © by James Russell Publishing All Rights Reserved. JamesRussellPublishing.com